Franchise Spotlight: Oil Can Henry's

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If you’ve seen “Back to the Future,” you’ll remember the moment Marty McFly realizes he has traveled back in time. He wanders around a charmingly old-fashioned Main Street, featuring a full-service gas station with a friendly, smartly dressed staff. The message: This doesn’t happen in modern-day America anymore.

But it does happen. You can get the upbeat, smart service of a 1950s gas station, the style of 1920s art deco and the technological advancements of 2015 at Oil Can Henry’s.

Founded in 1978, Oil Can Henry’s is a premium oil change and preventive vehicle maintenance company that provides quick, convenient and thorough service at a great value. Applying the principles of excellent customer service and high-quality work to the quick lube industry, the company has set itself apart from the average lube shop and weathered the recession to maintain a strong regional position.

According to John Wanderscheid, director of Marketing, Oil Can Henry’s has pursued a measured, strategic, expansion plan, placing a focus on establishing critical mass in the six Western states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Today, there are 89 Oil Can Henry’s service centers open and another two in various stages of development. Each location is designed to be attractive, bright, clean and charming — places that invite car owners to come back.

But Oil Can Henry’s offers much more than just the Gatsby-style hats their employees wear and the beautiful buildings where cars are serviced. What truly sets them apart is the way the company approaches its motto, “The One You Can Trust.” For starters, customers don’t even need to get out of their cars.

“One thing that makes us unique,” Wanderscheid said, “is we involve the owners in the service, and we educate them about their vehicle. They don’t wait in a cold, uncomfortable waiting room. Instead, they remain in their vehicle, where they can watch and listen to the techs complete the work. We consult with the car owners during the entire service process, explaining the different oil types they can choose and our service options. Based on the customer’s individual service history, we consult and customize what we do to meet their needs.”

When Wandersheid said you can watch and listen, he means that literally. The service technicians work in teams of two, engaging in a vocal back and forth as they double-check their work. This technique allows the customer to see how the service is being completed, from start to finish. It also helps the company ensure employees maintain the corporate standards of high performance.

Oil Can Henry’s techs perform a thorough, 20-point service check that includes not only the oil and filter change one would expect at a quick lube, but also the small details that keep a car running smoothly, such as checking wiper blades, headlights, taillights and more. They also offer preventive maintenance, such as spark plug replacement, A/C recharging, transmission flushing and battery replacement. Customers can watch the technicians work via the Castrol Cam — a proprietary live video monitor system that is placed next to the driver’s side window and provides live views of the technicians at work under the hood and in the pit.

As part of this premium service approach, Oil Can Henry’s places priority on providing customers with high-quality products and services.

“We’re proud of the strategic relationships we’ve established with industry leaders Castrol, Universal Lubricants, Service Champ, Gold Eagle and Thermofluids,” Wanderscheid noted. “Our franchisees benefit from our hard work to create and nurture these important partnerships.”

One of those franchisees is John Christensen, president of Lockhaven Enterprises. Christensen owns and operates three Oil Can Henry’s service centers in Southern California — specifically the Brea, Fountain Valley and Whittier locations. He has a great appreciation for what the company is doing.

“In my mind, Oil Can Henry’s is an innovator,” Christensen said. “It’s a great company because of how we position our brand. We’re aligned with premium brands and premium, old-fashioned services. And we’re a green company — environmentally friendly. Customers are responding very well to what we offer.”

Christensen also noted customers are very loyal to the Oil Can Henry’s brand, which allows him to concentrate on drawing in both repeat business and new customers at each of his California locations.

“Oil Can Henry’s has made it possible for me to be successful as a franchisee,” he said. “We are like a family. Our franchisor treats us well.”

Another element to their success, Christensen and Wanderscheid both mentioned, is the way Oil Can Henry’s has embraced environmentally friendly business practices. According to Wanderscheid, the company carefully recycles as much as possible, from cardboard packaging and papers to used oil, antifreeze and wiper blades. Their environmental service providers collect used oil from centers (more than one million gallons each year) and assume custody of that used oil as it is either recycled or used for another purpose.

Christensen agreed, noting West Coast customers appreciate the company’s dedication to sound environmental practices.

“Our customers appreciate that we offer the best of both worlds; high-quality Castrol and re-refined Eco Ultra,” Christensen said. “We’ve had a lot of success with it and found our customers to be really receptive.”

Another thing that makes Oil Can Henry’s stand out is their strong commitment to giving back to the community by supporting local charities, clubs and events. One partnership is with Meals on Wheels; many Oil Can Henry’s locations offer discounts to the thousands of volunteers who deliver meals to the elderly. The company has also worked with the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

This year, for the second time in a row, they will participate in fundraising for the National Military Family Association (NMFA). Last year’s NMFA fundraiser went well, Wanderscheid said, “All our guys wore camo Gatsby hats. All the money we raised went back to the states and communities we serve. A good majority of these funds help kids go to camp.”

This commitment to the community is also evident in their use of art deco architectural style, making each service center add to the beautification of the area where it is located.

Ultimately, Oil Can Henry’s wants its customers to enjoy superior service. Even in the face of economic downturn, Wanderscheid said, “We never abandoned our commitment to quality service drivers can trust and, equally important, we have maintained our premium brand positioning.”

As a result, the organization has been able to maintain its position in the industry, with opportunities for growth in the future.

“We’re working to expand additional centers in our current area of operations,” Wanderscheid said. Those new centers will, of course, uphold Oil Can Henry’s high standards and their mission statement, “To earn our customers’ lasting trust and loyalty.”

It all boils down to treating people right. As Wanderscheid explained, “We focus on educating drivers about their vehicles and the services recommended by the vehicle manufacturers. If you do it right and talk to the customers about what they need, everything else falls into place.”

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